Salesforce Best Practices

When to Hire A Full-Time Salesforce Expert and When to Contract (Part I)

The Salesforce talent marketplace is shifting, expanding, and evolving at the fastest pace I’ve seen in my 15 years of working within the ecosystem. From the rapid growth of the Salesforce independent consultant pool to freelance communities such as UpWork and Fiverr, Salesforce customers have more choice and access to on-demand and experienced talent than ever before. 

While increasing access to talent is an excellent opportunity for maximizing program ROI, the great amount of choice can also make it difficult to know when and where to tap into this growing goldmine of talent. So what is the most effective approach to finding the right people and set of skills to bring a Salesforce system to life?  

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. Here are the four main ways to source Salesforce talent:

  1. Hiring a recruiter to identify and vet full-time employees.
  2. Using one or more of the 1,500+ Salesforce consulting partners. 
  3. Tapping into the growing pool of skilled freelancers. 
  4. Partnering with a Salesforce talent broker. 

There is no right option, only the option that is right for you. In this two-part post, I’ll walk through what I believe are the pros and cons of these different options.

Option 1: Full-Time Employees

Also known as an FTE, a full-time employee can give companies access to people who are well-versed in a company’s existing system and can be deployed across a business as needed. 

While we believe any role or task can be conducted by an outside expert with the right person and the right structure in place, there are some things that are better left to internal, full-time staff when possible. These include:

Daily Administration: If your needs are primarily focused around the administration of reporting, security, and minor updates that require a quick turnaround time, it’s most optimal to have someone internal take those on rather than outsourcing. 

End-User Support: Similar to the daily administration tasks, you want the person/people handling end-user support to have a solid understanding of your business and your org so they can triage issues and provide support based on the context of why things are the way they are. 

(Some) Release Management

While a lot of companies (including 10K) can provide guidance on the process and toolset to use, ultimately there are some companies that don’t want a third party touching their production instance. We get it. As we’ve mentioned in our recent Handbook for Salesforce Operational Excellence, it’s a good idea to have someone internally own the release management toolset and the overall process for release management. 

However, in a market as hot as Salesforce, this approach might be too lengthy and expensive for some companies. For example, research we gathered in 2018 shows that it can take on average 62 days to get a full-time developer onboard, and can cost more than $22,000 USD in recruiting expenses. If the company is in a regulated and competitive industry like healthcare or financial services, it could take three to four months to find the right person and get them on board.

Option 2: Salesforce Consulting Partners

When hiring full-time employees isn’t an option for your company, the Salesforce partner ecosystem is an excellent resource to connect with the talent you need. Partner consulting companies range from household names with thousands of experts to boutique firms with a single Salesforce professional. 

These organizations are in the business of supplying Salesforce skills for any kind and size of Salesforce implementation, integration, or custom development project, and are a great option for companies who need to take on large transformation projects or supplement their internal team’s skills and capacity on a project basis. Hourly rates for consultants range dramatically based on the type of partner, region, skill level, and more, but expect to pay between $125 – $300 USD per hour across technical and non-technical roles in both established and emerging markets.

As mentioned, the number of Salesforce professionals a consulting partner offers can range from just one to thousands. They offer two very different consulting experiences. 

Large Salesforce partners 

As of late 2020, the top three consulting partners in the ecosystem (Accenture, Deloitte, and Cognizant) still comprise the vast majority of certified experts. Each grew the number of certified experts they report to Salesforce AppExchange by more than 25% YoY, with Accenture expanding their team the most (growing 36% YoY).

These global partners provide access to a massive network of professionals with expertise across a number of areas (important for large implementations) and a level of assurance that they know what they’re doing. However, these partners have the same challenge as Salesforce customers looking to hire and keep full-time talent, which means customers will be paying for the overhead associated with recruiting, training, and supporting these armies of consultants and may see a lot of turnover on their teams. 

Small Salesforce partners

Our 2020 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem report found that more than 90% of registered partners on the Salesforce AppExchange have 50 or fewer experts. Nearly half of all partners have five or fewer certified experts.  

Many of these firms, while small in size, were founded by highly experienced professionals and may employ some of the ecosystem’s top talent, with rare and specialized skills and experience companies might need and have trouble sourcing. However, because of their size, limited marketing budgets, and the sheer number of them out there, customers may find it virtually impossible to find, vet, and engage with the right firm for them. 

Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll outline how to tap into the growing freelance market and how to partner with a Salesforce talent broker. 

What You Should Know About Hiring On-Demand Salesforce Developers

There are many scenarios where a Salesforce customer would need the specialized skills of a Salesforce developer. Whether it’s customizing a Salesforce environment to a particular use case or business need, automating a specific process, developing mobile apps or products on Force.com, or integrating multiple systems with Salesforce, employing the right development talent is key to making any solution come to life.  

When hiring a developer, going with a full-time employee could be the best option if you’re dealing with a long-term project or deep knowledge of internal systems is required. In most cases, however, partnering with an independent developer is the way to go.  

Why Salesforce customers should consider independent developers

Sourcing and hiring skilled Salesforce developers is a time-consuming and costly challenge. And, once engaged, that talent can be even harder to keep. The good news is, however, that developers are not typically needed on a full-time basis. Sometimes you just need specialized talent to solve a unique challenge and advance your program. On-demand developers allow you to fill the gaps on your team, extending their bandwidth and providing essential skills to get the work done more efficiently and faster. In fact, many of the best developers we know love solving new problems, and that passion lends well to project-based, contract positions. 

How Salesforce customers stand to benefit from on-demand Salesforce developers 

When it comes to partnering with independent developers, Salesforce customers stand to gain increased: 

  • Accessibility: Generally speaking, most developers have focused specialties. By going with an independent consultant, you gain access to the specific skills you need and choose who you work with based on those.
  • Efficiency: In comparison to hiring a full-time employee or a GSI, it’s faster and easier to get an independent developer started, especially with smaller tasks. Going with a large consultancy is one option, but even after you’ve run the gauntlet of the traditional sales and SOW process to get in their queue, it can still take you 6-9 weeks to get started. Talent brokers and on-demand talent communities can typically connect you with an expert in less than a week. 
  • Affordability: It’s no secret that hiring a FTE takes time, money, and focus. Research we gathered in 2018 shows that it can take on average 62 days to get a full-time developer onboard, and can cost more than $22,000 USD in recruiting expenses. With independent consultants, you only pay for the hours you use.

Where to connect with independent Salesforce developers 

Working with hundreds of Salesforce customers over the years, we know firsthand how difficult it is to find skilled and vetted Salesforce developers. It also doesn’t help recruitment efforts when they’re in especially high demand right now as companies double down on digital transformation initiatives. With that, you have three options to turn to:

  • Referrals: When it comes to finding the top independent developers, it seems that their own networks are their overwhelming choice for finding new clients. In fact, only 11% of the independent experts in our survey cited Salesforce AppExchange as a source for clients and projects. Start by asking your industry peers or business colleagues if they can recommend and vouch for a developer they personally know. 
  • Talent marketplace: When looking for independent talent, your instincts may tell you to first look at a freelance platform such as Upwork or Fiverr. However, in our recent survey of independent Salesforce experts, only 30% said they used those platforms to find work. Our analysis would indicate that those platforms, while good for finding a wide variety of skills, aren’t tailored to providing the most experienced and vetted Salesforce talent. If you’re looking for a similar platform, the Salesforce developers jobs board is active with Salesforce professionals looking for new projects. 
  • Salesforce talent broker: Salesforce-specific talent brokers are dedicated to vetting talent and connecting them with customers in need of their specialized skills. A good broker should act as a valued partner to both the talent and the customers, and that means gaining a deep understanding of a company’s unique needs. Brokers are also typically able to negotiate better rates for customers than they may have gotten on their own. 

The most important hiring criteria for Salesforce developers 

The vetting process is essential to hiring the right developer. This person will be serving as an extension of your team, so it’s important you feel confident they’re the right technical and personality fit before getting work underway. 

When it comes to assessing their hard skills, you may feel inclined to rely on their certifications as the holy grail of how proficient they are. We advise taking certifications with a grain of salt. They don’t necessarily validate an expert’s in-the-field experience, and many Salesforce program owners (81%) have experienced a situation where a candidate or consultant claimed to have a certification or specific experience they did not have.

Soft skills are just as important as proficiency. These individuals are going to be an extension of your team, so gauging their personality, communication style, and organizational skills will also help determine if they are a fit for the business and your team. 

Start by asking questions based on your desired outcomes. Things like “Can you describe a time you helped a sales leader working with Salesforce?” and “How do you work with non-technical stakeholders?” can provide great insight into whether someone is aligned and capable of meeting your needs. 

Determining the right rate for the right talent

Most independents have a standard hourly rate they charge but know it is often a starting place and can range significantly based on experience, skill set, location, length and complexity of the project, and sometimes most importantly, how much they want the work. 

As seen in Mason Frank’s Salesforce Salary Survey, the contract market rates remain lucrative. Here are the average freelance Salesforce Developer rates by country:

  • US: $79–$138 per hour
  • UK: £500–£700 per day
  • France: €500–€650 per day
  • Australia: $1,000–$1,350 per day

How to get started with an on-demand Salesforce developer

In 2021 and beyond, no company can afford to ignore the growing talent pool of skilled, on-demand Salesforce developers. For more in-depth learning about sourcing and partnering with independent talent and how to effectively manage the relationship, download our latest resource, On-Demand Salesforce Talent Guide, or contact the 10K team today to find the developer you’ve been looking for. 

10K’s On-Demand Salesforce Talent Guide Offers Talent Acquisition Strategies for 2021

Just as computers changed how we work and the emergence of the cloud changed where we work, we’re witnessing new market dynamics that are challenging the traditional norms of the workplace yet again. The rules are being rewritten for the way we build and operate 21st-century businesses. 

If I were starting a business in the year 2000, no doubt one of the first things I would be thinking about would be hiring experts to run the core functions of the business – generally sales and marketing, finance and legal, information technology, and human resources. Those employees would, in turn, be tasked with building out their respective teams by hiring more employees. I would be hunting for office space to house this team because they would likely all live in (or move to) close proximity to my business headquarters. 

How to Make On-Demand Talent an Effective Part of Your Salesforce Program

Knowing that technology can help me do more with less, I would make significant investments to procure technology equipment, data centers, and software, hiring even more people to help manage all of these investments. The net-net is that I need to make significant capital investments, hire a lot of employees, and encumber my business with real estate liabilities to build a company of any significant scale, say, greater than $1M per year in revenue.

One of the underlying results of these old-school practices and constraints is that the best talent in any given industry tends to be concentrated into a smaller number of companies. No matter how skilled you are, the entrepreneurial barrier to scaling your talents into a full-fledged business was daunting and required a massive leap of faith (not to mention access to a lot of money). What we consider “traditional employment” with this smaller number of competing companies was the most attractive (and only realistic) route for most experts. 

How might that scenario be different in 2021?

As I type this at my kitchen table, I have all of the tools and support I need to start any variety of businesses instantly available at my fingertips. Think about not only how powerful that is, but how different it is than at the turn of the century. All you need now to start a business is the will and an internet connection. Startups of today can instantly tap into a vast array of technology services to run their businesses, on-demand and without huge capital investments, such as Salesforce, Hubspot, Quickbooks, and Google Apps. This instantly puts them on par with, or even better than, the tech stacks of much larger, established businesses and without huge capital investments.

But the real revolution this has sparked is not just how we access technology – it’s how we access talent. 

With just a few more clicks and keystrokes, I can now find and work with experienced professionals across many specialties and engage them on critical business initiatives within days or sometimes even hours. This is a game-changer, as big or bigger than the impacts of the internet or cloud alone.

This ease of “starting up” coupled with the emergence of talent marketplaces has spurred massive talent decentralization. One person providing their skills and expertise on-demand enables another person to provide their skills and expertise on-demand and so on. This trend has been building slowly over the last decade, with smaller businesses tending to be the primary constituents on both sides of each transaction. In 2021 and beyond, no business of any size can afford to ignore the skilled and growing independent workforce. 

Source: United States Census Bureau

According to US Census data, new business applications, which have been steadily growing over the past 8 years or so, more than doubled at one point in 2020 from a low of 236k in April to a high of nearly 552k just 3 months later in July. New business applications grew nearly 25%, from 3,504,086 in 2019 to 4,353,288 in 2020, and that growth looks to continue in 2021. It turns out that a global pandemic is what it took to accelerate entrepreneurship. 

That trend is especially true when it comes to Salesforce talent.

Over the last 15 years working in the Salesforce consulting ecosystem, the 10K leadership team has helped organizations of all shapes and sizes realize the full potential of the platform to grow their businesses and enhance their relationships with customers. Years ago, we watched as more and more of the most experienced practitioners in the space, including many of our fellow Salesforce MVPs, were choosing to leave traditional employers and strike out on their own. We too felt the pull of working for ourselves, and in 2016 founded 10K as a new type of Salesforce consultancy built to support this growing on-demand workforce and help customers tap into it. 

We saw this as a growing trend in the market, but we could not have predicted that a global pandemic would force (almost overnight) a complete shift in the way businesses source and manage their talent needs. 

COVID has not only accelerated the rise of remote work but has also forced companies to restructure many of their day to day operations. The makeup of their traditional workforces has shifted due to large-scale layoffs, furloughs, halting work visas, etc. This was just the spur many talented experts needed to hang their shingles.

According to Upwork’s most recent U.S. Independent Workforce report, 59 million Americans are now freelancing (36% of the total workforce) and the number of those doing so full time has increased 8% since 2019. Our research in the Salesforce talent ecosystem shows a similar trend. More than 50% of the independent Salesforce consultants we surveyed said their long-term goal was to grow their own business, and 56% said they were unlikely to return to a full-time position or large consulting firm. This means that in an ecosystem where experienced talent is already hard to hire, it’s getting even harder.

And it’s not just individuals who are embracing this new model. Employers are as well. According to Upwork research, 47% of hiring managers are more likely to hire independent professionals in the future than they were before the crisis. Harnessing the power of disparate, unretained workforces is here to stay. 

So how do you make the most out of working with independent consultants?

In our latest On-Demand Salesforce Talent Guide we dive into the benefits of working with an independent workforce, how to identify the right talent, and ways to nurture those relationships once you do identify them. Ultimately, we hope this information will provide you with the guidance and data you need to feel informed and confident in pursuing and achieving a successful partnership that will help you truly make an impact with Salesforce.

Download the guide today.

 

Tips for Reducing your Salesforce Technical Debt

Creating technical debt for your Salesforce system isn’t the end of the world; it’s an unavoidable necessity. Ward Cunningham, the American computer programmer who coined the term, maybe said it best back in 1992: 

“Shipping first-time code is like going into debt. A little debt speeds development so long as it is paid back promptly with a rewrite… The danger occurs when the debt is not repaid. Every minute spent on not-quite-right code counts as interest on that debt.” 

Decades before cloud-based systems and digital transformation became the norm, Ward recognized a basic truth of development–technical debt is inevitable, but it shouldn’t be unmanageable. Just like any financial loan, it needs to be accounted for and paid off promptly. 

We know technical debt isn’t a new concept, but it always deserves revisiting. That’s why on the heels of our 2020 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report we felt an obligation to explore technical debt in the context of evolving demands for Salesforce talent, particularly two interesting anomalies:

  • Declining demand for Salesforce Architects
  • Global demand for developers is outpacing architects.

To continue reading, head to Salesforce Ben for the full post.

2021 Will Be Another Game-Changing Year for the Salesforce Ecosystem

Listen, 2020 was not easy on anyone. But through the tragedies, uncertainty, and upheaval to just about every aspect of normal life, there were some major positive changes that will have long-lasting effects on how we work, learn, and build community, especially in the Salesforce ecosystem. 

2020 forced three major shifts

With the pandemic forcing everyone to social distance and avoid coming into crowded offices, we (both workers and companies) had to learn how to work remotely overnight. This was a change that had been happening slowly for the past 10 years but could have taken a generation to fully take hold as deeply as it has. Now many of us could never imagine going back to the “old” way.

The economic fallout from the pandemic also forced many companies to reduce headcount, placing them into an adapt or die situation. Unfortunately, the rapid pace of change and the impact of the virus was too much for some businesses, especially in hard-hit industries. Those who survived were faced with the daunting task of keeping the lights on with fewer people and rapidly evolving their business models and operations to meet the changes brought on by the COVID economy. In many aspects, Salesforce was the answer, and the projects and digital transformation initiatives slated for the future were accelerated to meet the challenge, enabling more businesses to not only survive but thrive.

While technology companies and many tech workers benefited from this digital acceleration, many others didn’t. The downsizing precipitated massive job loss across the world, hitting almost every industry and touching many families. But in looking for a silver lining, it was just the nudge needed for many knowledge workers to enter the freelance and independent economy. And for those who had always dreamed about working in tech, nonprofits like PepUp Tech launched free programs for displaced workers to get them the training and placements they needed to start new careers.

All three of these major shifts – the prevalence of remote work, the evolution of business models, and the rise in freelance talent — have upended many traditional paradigms, and with change, there is always opportunity.

These changes fell right in line with what we’re building at 10K – a fully remote and distributed community of highly skilled independent Salesforce experts helping companies execute their digital transformation programs rapidly and on-demand.

We knew this model would become mainstream someday, but we never imagined it would happen this rapidly and amongst a global pandemic.

How will 2021 be different?

We’re entering 2021 riding this tidal wave of change, working to help our customers and experts capitalize on the opportunities these changes have brought about. 

Many Salesforce customers are changing what they are looking for in a Salesforce partner. Instead of long scoping processes and contract negotiations, customers are looking to extend their teams flexibly and rapidly. We’re answering that call by continuing to automate and streamline as many of our customer operations as possible, making it easier and faster than ever for those searching for experienced Salesforce talent to get the help they need, when they need it. 

Salesforce customers are also looking for skilled talent in smaller, bite-sized chunks as a way to reimagine new ways of doing things and also unblock stuck initiatives without lots of overhead and long-term commitments. We’ve built 10K Task to help customers more effectively do the same things we’re doing ourselves – work through the smaller but necessary changes that can have a large impact on making your users happier and more efficient.

In addition, seasoned Salesforce experts are looking for a wider variety of challenges that help them grow, but also allow them the flexibility to work when, how, and where they want. 

The number of independent experts and small Salesforce partners has grown rapidly over the past year, leading to a Salesforce talent ecosystem that is more dispersed and harder to navigate than ever before. This perfectly fits our vision of creating a community of the world’s top Salesforce talent who, while independent in their own right, can come together to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving customer base.

Why we feel ready for this moment 

At 10K, we’re combining our deep experience in finding and vetting talent, managing complex customer programs, and building innovative technology to close the gap between evolving customer needs and the desires of world-class talent. This year we’re not only working to improve our existing expert and customer experiences, but we’re also opening up completely new and innovative technology-enabled models that will change the way you think about doing work (and getting work done) on the Salesforce platform. 

We will also continue to build on the research and thought leadership our team has put together over the past few years (such as our 2020 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report, Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook, and Salesforce Project to Program Research), research that our customers, partners, and experts have come to depend on to plan for the future and improve their long term success with the Salesforce platform. 

While there is a lot to focus on in 2021, we’re not stopping our forward march of services innovation. We’re thinking far beyond this year to what work, and particularly Salesforce consulting, will be like 5-10 years from now. If you think back to 10 years ago and know that the pace of innovation will only continue to increase in the future, you can start to envision the massive change that we’ll all undertake in the years to come. Which roles will become more important? Which roles might be automated away? How will customers want to use Salesforce experts as they reach a later stage of platform maturity? 

10K strives to be on the forefront and always be leading the charge to create better and more equitable ways for people to do the work they love. We hope that you’ll join us on this mission – as a 10K expert or by working with one – as we create the future, together.

Dreamforce to You 2020: 10K “From Project to Program” Webinar Recap

As with nearly every aspect of our lives in 2020, this year’s Dreamforce was far from what any of us would have predicted. Salesforce, however, pulled off a value-packed lineup and we’re honored to have shared this year’s virtual event with some of the ecosystem’s brightest talent.   

For this year’s “Dreamforce to You” experience, 10K CEO, Nick Hamm, and Chief Customer Officer, Mike Martin, were invited to host a webinar exploring how to get more ROI from Salesforce. Our webinar, “From Project to Program: Best Practices for Highly Successful Salesforce Implementations with 10K Advisors,” offered research-backed, how-to strategies for shifting your Salesforce program’s focus from chasing individual projects to establishing a more mature, agile system. Read on for the most valuable nuggets from our presentation. 

What it means to go from “project to program”

It started with a simple enough question, “Are Salesforce customers seeing the return they want from their Salesforce investment?” 

The 10K team has been in the ecosystem for nearly 15 years, so we knew we needed to research this challenge in-depth to better help our customers understand how to get more ROI from their investment. That’s why, in 2018, we hired Dimensional Research to survey 300+ Salesforce program owners across North America and Europe to understand what structures, processes, and practices lead to a higher return on investment. From improving employee productivity to increasing sales opportunities and replacing legacy technology, there are major benefits to giving your Salesforce program more TLC. 

The report’s key findings ultimately supported what our work has revealed time and again. No matter a Salesforce customer’s size or industry, there is a strong correlation between the following recommended best practices and high ROI. And, because it doesn’t cost more to take advantage of the products you’re already licensing, why not make the most of it? 

Project to program top 5 findings 

1. Establish program metrics

Measurement matters when it comes to ROI. Implementing KPIs such as user adoption, story points in a specific sprint cycle, and specific goals like increased sales numbers can help gauge your program’s effectiveness. Program metrics can be hard to implement and measure, but simple ones like tracking your user logins and user satisfaction scores are an easy way to get started.  

2. Consider a Center of Excellence

Having a Center of Excellence, the centralized combination of people and processes to manage operations, isn’t a new concept but is rarely used by Salesforce customers. Having a Salesforce COE that’s responsible for managing your best practices and roadmaps has a strong correlation to both high ROI and better grades. 91% of those that report the highest ROI say they have a COE, as do 82% of those that give themselves an A grade. That’s not surprising given the governance, alignment, and assurance that COEs can offer.

3. Use a Salesforce architect early and often

Salesforce Customers often assume an architect isn’t necessary but their expertise is essential to help you scale for the future. For example, an architect can help you decide when to use code or not and avoid building for the sake of building–a practice that leads to unnecessary technical debt. From our report, the vast majority of those who report A grades (73%) and the highest return on investment (82%) always work with a technical or solutions architect. 

4. Frequent releases correlate to higher ROI

When asked, “Approximately how often does your organization do production releases of Salesforce functionality?” we found that organizations have different philosophies on release cycle timing. 43% of respondents said they released to production weekly or more often, with 13% releasing continuously. Not surprisingly, the largest implementations and organizations with more dedicated headcount release most frequently. The more customizations you build to serve your users and business processes, the more usage and return you’ll receive. 

5. Partner with consultants to build and improve

As a Salesforce partner, this may appear self-serving, but this particular trend came straight from Salesforce customers themselves. You may have day-to-day operations in-house, but it’s nearly impossible to have the exact talent you need for every implementation and feature you’re looking to build. Third-party experts often work with a wide variety of customers, scenarios, and challenges, so they can provide valuable insight to guide your organization.   

The single most important thing you can do for higher Salesforce ROI 

Out of the top five best practices outlined from our Project to Program research, we felt the single most important trend to explore further was the use of Salesforce Centers of Excellence. We’ve written scores on the topic, including our free 2020 Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook–A how-to guide to getting the most ROI from Salesforce. At 10K, we believe that if customers can empower their own success, then we’re able to provide higher-quality, long-term support. Our COE handbook, at the very least, can give you the building blocks to get started.

 

Audience Q&A

How can we engage 10K?

Please visit 10kview.com or email us at nick@10kview.com or mike@10kview.com

Do you have advisory services to help build out teams?

Our engagement model is focused on filling in your program gaps with on-demand Salesforce talent. Please contact us to learn more.